I got some funny looks when I told people we were taking Haylee to Disney. I know some would say she is too small among many other things, however we did it! Did we get lucky? Maybe! She was the perfect age to ride the rides and meet the characters. Some people thought Disney would not have small rides for children, but maybe surprised that it's the best place for toddlers! The trip was so worth it! Haylee smiled and laughed the entire time. We made so many great memories and we can't wait to go back! If you're here to read all the details on how or what we did at Disney World then stick around!
What we packed:
-Disney clothes. We made our own shirts for the trip. Haylee wore a shirt with Minnie Ears and her monogram. It cost us only $12. I also bought our Mickey ears from the Disney Store Outlet at the mall on sale for $7! They are around $20 at the parks. You could also purchase Disney character shirts at your local retail store. Buying shirts at Disney World can run you about $30.
- Battery operated fan. Here is one from Amazon. It's hot at Disney and you're going to be outside waiting in lines. A fan for your stroller is a great way to keep your little one cool while waiting.
-Umbrella/Rain Jacket- It rains in Florida every day. The weather could be sunny, but sometimes in the evening you get these scattered showers for 30 minutes to an hour. You could use your umbrella as shade while waiting for rides too!
-Disney autograph notebook. I found one at the Dollar Store with a pen. Your little one will love getting autographs from their favorite characters/princesses. Haylee made sure she gave her notebook to them first, then a hug, then a photo. TOO CUTE!
-Bag pack/cooler. I have a pink palm tree bag pack that is actually a cooler. Here is one from Amazon. We used this to store water and snacks. Disney lets you bring in outside food! We definitely loved that. Food/snacks get pricey. For instance $10 for a pretzel! You could also split it between the whole family if you really want to try some of their food/snacks. I recommend the Dole Whip Ice Cream!!! YUM!
-Stroller. I recommend bringing a stroller because you will have to pay to rent one from the park. I packed our smaller stroller to save on space in the van, but any stroller will work.
-Folding travel potty seat. Carrying around a potty for Haylee was not going to happen. I purchased an easy fold potty here at Babies r us. It kept us on track with her potty training!
Traveling to Disney World during a hurricane:
I do not recommend planning a Disney trip in September. It is the peak season for Hurricanes and Florida is in the path of many of them! We planned a trip for a whole week in September and Hurricane Irma had other plans for us. We decided to wait until after the storm to see if we would go. It was a bit stressful because we didn't know if we were going! We didn't worry about the money because Disney is so great to their guests offering many options. Disney World however is the best place during a hurricane. Did you know their power lines are underground??!! Anyways, Disney Resorts and hotels keep their guests very safe! Their staff is the most friendliest ever!!! We called our hotel because we were concerned about not going. They offered us a full refund, no questions asked. They really know how to treat their guests! Anyways, it turned out great other than making our trip shorter. We got to go to Disney a few days later. It really worked out!
We chose a hotel that was dog friendly and had a kitchen! I loved our hotel! They served complimentary breakfast every morning. We had a kitchen to cook lunch and dinner to save money. The pool was toddler friendly with water spouts! They had a hot tub, great for lots of walking at the park! We stayed at the Towneplace Suites - Marriott in Disney World. The hotel was 5 minutes from Disney World. They had a shuttle too for anyone who didn't want to pay for parking at the park.
If you're looking to save on a hotel or food cost, this is your hotel! I hope to one day stay at a Disney Resort, but I was glad to save money on a great place to stay. No regrets! Disney Resorts can be the most cost to your vacation so you could save by staying at a non Disney Resort nearby. I would recommend looking at Groupon and Hotels.com for great savings!
There are many ways to save here! One is sometimes your workplace may give discount tickets to theme parks such as Disney. Two is buying it from undercover tourist website! If you can't do either then I recommend buying a Disney gift card from Sam's club to pay for it because you could save some $$ than paying full price at the gate. If you have a large family and buy a gift card valued at $500 from Sam's you would pay approx $490ish.
We chose to only go to Magic Kingdom, however Disney World has many different parks. Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Blizzard Beach. Definitely research which would fit your family best if you only want to go to one.
I chose Magic Kingdom because they had the most rides for Haylee. Magic Kingdom had rides that didn't have a height requirement. The rides she rode - Dumbo, Astro Orbiter, Peter Pan flight, It's a small world, Mad tea party (teacups), Mickey's Phillarmagic, Casey Jr splash n soak station, The little mermaid ride and The magic carpets of Aladdin. She could have rode a couple more attractions, but we had dinner reservations.
The parks also have photographers standing around waiting to take your family photos. I recommend paying for this! It's so hard to get photos when so much is going on, and everyone in the family will be in the photos. I'm glad we got the photo pass because while I was trying to get Haylee's attention for photos the photographer snapped beautiful photos of her!
With a toddler, fast pass for rides is the best way to go on rides! If your toddler doesn't like waiting or standing still (like Haylee) then you will love being able to jump the long lines for the best rides.
When Haylee met the Disney characters and Princesses I expected screaming and crying, however she adored them all. One of my tips would be to go ahead and do the meet ups/photos with characters and princesses first or after their nap! They are in a great mood for photos and meeting them. Also, someone gave me a great tip that I used... meet the princesses first so they have a live person to see and talk with. This way the little one isn't as scared. It worked! We met Tinkerbell and Snow White first before Minnie and Daisy.
Treats- There are snacks, candies, desserts everywhere in the park. While I know parents don't want to feed their kids sugar all day, I recommend getting one candy or dessert for the little one. Haylee was so excited and happy to have a Mickey Mouse lollipop. That was the only sugar she had and it didn't ruin her life!
Character Dining - Most of the dining with Disney Characters are full/packed! Be sure to reserve ahead of time. Also, if you try to cancel your reservation you may have to pay $40! So plan ahead! We reserved dinner at the Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh and his friends. It was a buffet style and a reasonable cost. You are mostly paying to eat with characters. The buffet had some seafood, steak and lots of healthy sides like green beans and cucumber salad.
Naps - We stayed at the park from morning to evening. Haylee was able to get in her naptime, which was perfect for taking a break from the heat! It definitely helped keep her in a great mood for all the activities!
If you're wanting to save money on Disney souvenirs, I found this amazing place at a mall a few minutes away from Disney World. The Disney Warehouse. It had frames, character stuffed animals, clothes, cups/mugs, bags, Mickey ears and more! I purchased a photo album, coloring book, princess purse, photo frame for approx. $20!
Other saving ideas:
We mostly saved up for this vacation by using coupons on our daily purchases year round. Other ways you could save is cutting back on other non essential things like eating out, retail therapy and cutting your cable. If you have credit cards, think about the rewards you could get towards airfare or travel! You could also put away $200 a month on Disney gift cards.
Hopefully you took away great info here! Let me know if you have any saving ideas for your Disney trip! I'd love to learn more!
Here are some behind the scene photos and photos from our day at Magic Kingdom. More photos are on facebook!
photos are with IPhone 7 and Nikon D700.